We all know that smoked brisket is a staple in the Texas diet. It’s a culinary star of the Lone Star State and one of the holy grails of Texas barbecue. If you’re a visitor, you need to hit up a local BBQ joint and get some south in your mouth! But not just any place will do (keep reading). And you should know that brisket is hardly limited to barbecue. Tender, juicy, smoky brisket is fabulous served on a platter or sliced in a sammy with sauce and pickles, but it is equally as delicious in Mexican, Argentinian and Asian dishes. In my experience, there is room for both old and new. Traditional joints are tried and true, and chef-pitmaster fusion is fun!
Born and bred in Texas, I’ve had plenty of experience eating brisket, but to be honest, before I started writing about it, I really didn’t know what makes brisket different from its beef counterparts. Well, it turns out that it’s the breast of the cow, the pectoral muscle and is one of the least tender and most fatty cuts of beef. What the heck, right? That just didn’t add up to me, but upon further research, it turns out sloooooooow cooking - braising, brining or smoking - for eight to 12 hours renders it soft, tender and juicy with incredible flavor. And get this, researchers at Texas A&M say brisket has health benefits. Now, that’s great news! I’m back on the brisket bandwagon, so let’s dig right into some of the best beefy goodness in Irving where the slaving over a hot oven/grill has already been done on your behalf.
Grills Gone Wild at BoutTyme Bbq
4002 N. Belt Line Rd | 469.890.9975
If you haven’t been to this famous food truck located in front of the Valero gas station at the corner or Belt Line and Country Club Drive, well it's Bouttyme you do! I don’t know if Chef Keith aka the Pit Boss is part of the underground BBQ fraternity, but he sure is licensed to grill.
This pitmaster presides over the red-hot coals for 12 hours to create smoky proteins of perfection that can be served atop smoked cheese grits, loaded cheese fries, and Big Boy Baked Potatoes. He serves St. Louis style ribs and other stuff, but we won’t hold it against him.
Smokin’ Hot: Post Oak Smokehouse
411 E. Royal Lane | 469.899.7557
This popular Irving BBQ joint is definitely part of the smoked-meat elite. The Post Oak menu is simple but the meats are superb, and they’re most famous for their Burnt Ends - morsels of smoked brisket—crispy, fatty bark bits — that are considered a barbecue delicacy. They also go by the playful name of meat candy. Ahem. Well. Shall we meat in Post Oak paradise and try some candy?
EmpaMundo Has Special Fillings for You
3977 N Belt Line Rd | 972.746.4516
EmpaMundo is Irving’s tasty little secret hidden in a small shop on Belt Line Road. This small bakery with big, bold Buenos Aires flavors serves fresh, cooked-to-order Argentinian gourmet empanadas. Best described as overly stuffed pillows of ooey-gooey goodness in a golden, crispy pastry crust, they are sure to make your crew happy at breakfast, lunch or dinner. EmpaMundo offers fillings of all flavors, both sweet and savory, but you won’t be surprised that the top seller at this Texas outpost is the Brisket Empanadas. They’re gently stuffed with brisket, potatoes, onions and chilies and served with not-too spicy Chimichurri sauce.
Pho Legacy for Texanamese, Pho Real
3109 N Belt Line Rd | 972.871.9555
Pho aficionados already know that simply put, pho is the Vietnamese equivalent to “noodle soup for the soul,” but when you add brisket to this savory broth and a mountain of slippery flat rice noodles, it’s called Pho Tai, and it might be the comfort food of all comfort foods. Come hungry for the generous portions at Pho Legacy Vietnamese Noodle & Grill where a comforting bowl of noodles is beyond big and of course, beyond pho-bulous!
BBQ + Tex-Mex = Tio Carlos
2742 N O'Connor Rd | 972.570.5000
Have it your way at Tio Carlos Mexican-Latin Grill! Get your brisket fix in tacos, on nachos, stuffed in enchiladas, even topped with eggs. It’s Mexican and Latin and Texan at it’s best. The nachos feature beans, brisket and jack cheese served with sour cream, and guacamole, but I recommend the cheesy brisket enchiladas (topped with white queso and jack cheese). Now, I have no idea who Ken is (sorry buddy), but you can order Ken’s Eggchiladas - enchiladas of your choice (brisket-duh!) topped with two fried eggs - which sounds like an egg-cellent brunch option to me. P.S. You'd better hurry on over or exercise some patience, because Tio Carlos will be temporarily closed May 30 through June 3 for remodeling.
Let’s Taco ‘Bout Brisket Tacos: Nosh & Bottle
370 W Las Colinas Blvd | 469.442.0909
Nosh & Bottle is neither Tex-Mex nor BBQ, but they dish out quite possibly the BEST brisket tacos in town. Visit this neighborhood fave at breakfast, lunch or on Taco Tuesdays to indulge in mouthwatering Texas-style smoked brisket imported from Sanger’s Bolivar Street BBQ and stuffed in your choice of tortillas. For breakfast with eggs or later without, they will not disappoint.